(/sites/default/files/uploads/2012/05/6791103-old-fashionet-american-constitution-we-the-people-with-usa-flag.gif)In his New York Times op-ed article on May 29th titled “Our Imbecilic Constitution,” a law professor named Sanford Levinson demonstrated wacky, imbecilic progressivism in action.
Professor Levinson believes that our Constitution itself is the source of what he characterizes as the “dysfunctional, even pathological” American political system. The learned professor would do away with our system of “separation of powers” and “checks and balances” altogether. It’s just too darned difficult, he believes, to allow legislative and judicial interference to an omniscient president whose superior wisdom we should just learn to accept, unless of course a future president happens to be conservative.
Levinson would “permit each newly elected president to appoint 50 members of the House and 10 members of the Senate, all to serve four-year terms until the next presidential election.“ I wonder if Russian President Vladimir Putin is listening.
The Senate, according to Levinson, is too unrepresentative to be accorded equal weight with House of Representatives’ majority rule. The rights of the minority, be damned – unless it involves groups anointed with favored minority status by patronizing progressives.
Levinson also mentions the idea of having Congress override Supreme Court decisions it doesn’t like and requiring “seven of the nine Supreme Court justices…to overturn national legislation.”
Finally, Levinson complains that it is far too difficult to change the Constitution through the amendment process set forth in Article V. In another piece he wrote several years ago attacking the legitimacy of the Constitution, he claimed:
Because it is so difficult to amend the Constitution — it seems almost utopian to suggest the possibility, with regard to anything that is truly important — citizens are encouraged to believe that change is almost never desirable, let alone necessary.
Our Founding Fathers provided a framework for government that purposely made it difficult to allow the passions of the moment to override reasoned debate and prudent action. They tried to find a balance between an unchangeable document cast in stone for all time and an overly malleable document that could be sacrificed to transient whims. As James Madison described the amendment process in Federalist 43:
It guards equally against that extreme facility, which would render the Constitution too mutable; and that extreme difficulty, which might perpetuate its discovered faults. It, moreover, equally enables the general and the State governments to originate the amendment of errors, as they may be pointed out by the experience on one side, or on the other.
There are currently twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution. The first ten, the Bill of Rights, confirm the protection of our basic liberties. Other amendments have expanded the reach of these liberties. However, if Professor Levinson had his way and constitutional amendments were as easy to pass as legislation, Obamacare would be a constitutional amendment enshrining the made-up “right” to universal health care on terms dictated by the government. Amnesty would be granted to all illegal immigrants in some sort of made-up open-borders human rights amendment. And so on.
Professor Levinson follows a long line of progressive thinkers, going back to President Woodrow Wilson and his contemporary academic inspiration, leftist economic historian Charles Beard, who have sought to de-legitimize our Constitution. Progressives detest the Constitution because, at its core, it is a repudiation of the progressive philosophy of ever-expanding governmental power over our lives. Is it any wonder, for example, that the progressive secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, admitted that she didn’t bother to check the Constitution or judicial precedent before proceeding with the Obama administration’s trampling of First Amendment religious freedom rights with the ill-conceived contraception mandate?
Anti-Constitution progressives wrap their bias in the argument that the Constitution deserves little respect because it enshrined slavery. This is a completely irrelevant objection to the Constitution as it exists today, with amendments correcting its defects and adjusting to changing circumstances, including the 136-year-old Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. Even before this amendment, the black abolitionist Frederick Douglass had come to see the Constitution as containing mechanisms to eventually do away with slavery, and he was right.
The Constitution stands for limited government, whose primary responsibilities are to help protect our God-given rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and to secure our common defense. Progressives, on the other hand, want a government with the unfettered power to create rights of guaranteed equality of economic and social outcome. The result is either stagnation and ultimate decline of society as individuals lose their incentive to create, invest and work, or bloody repression to force individuals to serve the government’s conception of the “greater good.” Both end very badly.
Professor Levinson charges that too many Americans “have seemingly lost their capacity for thinking seriously about the extent to which the Constitution serves us well. Instead, the Constitution is enveloped in near religious veneration.”
Professor Levinson and his progressive colleagues could not be more wrong. Most Americans respect their Constitution because, even with its admitted imperfections, it is fulfilling its promise to secure “the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity” on the path towards “a more perfect Union.”
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